Monday, March 30, 2009

In a Dry Place?

Maybe you're like me. For a while now, I've found myself feeling really empty and dry spiritually. Many times I have prayed that God would light a fire in me, but I didn't really believe that He would do so. I know that I didn't believe because when He answered my prayer, I wasn't waiting expectantly for the answer, and so I missed it.

Even though I am not faithful, however, God is faithful.

He answered me again, and I ignored Him again. Again and again, he answered, and I ignored Him, until a light bulb finally went off.

Let me explain.

For the past few days, I've been reminded in my heart of the Scripture which has the clear solution to my spiritual dryness.

Revelation 3:20 says "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he
with me."

Jesus was knocking on the door of my heart with the answer to my prayer, but I couldn't hear Him. The TV was too loud. The voices in my head were too loud. My circumstances were too loud. Finally, once I heard the knocking, it was clear:

"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be
apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."
Revelation 3:1-7

Here, Jesus is telling this church, "Hey, you're doing all this religious stuff. You work hard. You endure and you don't tolerate people bringing wrong teachings about Me into your midst. Good job! But you're doing it out of obligation, not because you love Me. What has changed? What were you doing when you first loved Me, that you're no longer doing? Go back to doing those things, and the passion will be back. Your influence in ministry will return when you return to doing the things you did when you were first fired up."

What was I doing when I first became a Christian that I'm not doing now? I was reading His Word, listening to solid bible teaching and worship whenever I could, and feeding my Spirit healthy food instead of junk food that is all around me. Do those things, God's Word is saying, and the love will be back.

It's amazing that the One who created this whole world cares about me and about a relationship with Me. Yet when I take Him at His Word, He is faithful to honor that.

The tide is turning in my heart and in my life. And you know what? The more I drink of the living water, the more I thirst. The more I partake of His Word, the more I hunger. The more I recieve from God in his Word, the more I want to share it. The reason I am still on this earth is to share God's love with others, and to point them to Jesus. What does this world have to offer that's better than that?

God hears, and God answers. If I had believed He would, I could've saved myself a lot of grief and a lot of time.

What are you praying for? Have you searched the Scriptures to see if what you're praying for is actually God's will for your life? If it is, then His Word promises you that you have what you've asked of Him. The question is: are you listening for His knock on your heart, or is the sound of His knock being drowned out by the volume of the TV, or your circumstances, or some other distraction?

Take God at His Word. He will never let you down.

Monday, January 26, 2009

And the final score is...100-0!!!???

Sometimes, losses in sports can be very embarrassing.

The story found here chronicles a time when a win is even more embarrassing.

Up 59-0 at halftime, the girls' high school basketball team from Covanent Christan Academy in Texas continued to pour it on in the 2nd half, pressing and scoring en route to a 100-0 win over Dallas Academy.

I've had a while to think about this. My first take was, as college football coach Steve Spurrier once said, "I didn't know it was my job to stop us. I though that was the other team's job." But as a Christian, I am called to think differently. I am called to think as Christ thinks, and not as the world does.

The more I thought about this, the more it bothered me.

The school that won this game is a Christian school. They are supposed to be representing Christ, teaching their kids and the world around them how glorious Christ is and how awesome it is to follow Him. Jesus was compassionate, loving (to the point of death on a cross to pay for your sins and mine), and he wept for those who were being taken advantage of. He angrily turned tables upside down inside a temple of worship because people were being taken advantage of by money-hungry "evangelists". He said to do onto others as you would have them do onto you.

John Curtis (River Ridge, LA) is a Christian school also. A couple years ago, in the state championship game, they were up 42-6 in the fourth quarter (this was when Joe McNight of USC was there). They did an onsides kick in the 4th quarter with a 42-6 lead.

In the same Superdome classic, Evangel Christian Academy (Shreveport, LA) was throwing deep bombs up late in the game, again up by a wide margin.

Contrast that with Kurt Warner, who will attempt to win his 2nd Super Bowl championship this Sunday. Many are offended at each post-game interview, when he first gives credit and thanks to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While he plays hard, he plays with good sportsmanship and more appropriately represents what it means to be a Christian in sports. Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are other good examples who, in Dungy's words, are "Christian men, proving that it can be done the right way."

The point is that Christians are (to some extent, understandably) expected to demonstrate an even higher level of sportsmanship and character than those who are not. This coach, by his actions, gives people another reason to hate and despise Jesus because that's who he and his school claim to represent.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

15 words for 2009

I'd been thinking for a while of starting a blog, and this blog post was the catalyst to stop thinking about doing it perfectly and to simply start writing..

As 2008 draws to a close, many of my zero or so readers are contemplating New Year's resolutions that will be broken by the time I finally finish this post on January 2. For the past week or so. I've thought and prayed about what things needed to recieve my focus in 2009 and, more importantly, how i could actually make sure that my focus did, in fact, change. Thus, 15 words was born. Without further adieu, here are the 15 words (followed by a brief description without which none of the 15 words will make any sense).

Be a blessing
Do it now
Share the Gospel
Read and pray
Sock it away

1. Be a blessing. I make everyone around me miserable when i grumble and complain instead of appreciating God's goodness. My life is too good to selfishly drag everyone's mood down. It's time to seek ways of blessing and serving those around me, starting with my family,

2. Do it now. Procrastination makes everything hard. It's time for a new attitude.

3. Share the Gospel. The #1 reason I exist is to share the good news that God offers complete forgiveness of sins and everlasting life to all of us through Jesus' death on the cross on our behalf. Yet very little of my 2008 was spent seeking the Lord for and seizing opportunities to share this good news.

4. Read and pray. If Jesus withdrew from all He had to do to be alone with the Father to pray and have His strength renewed, what makes me think I can be strong enough to meet the challenges i face without this as a priority? My marriage is alive and well when i pray with my wife, and my son needs to have a dad who's constantly in touch with the Father and a man who is in God's word daily.

5. Sock it away. I want a little, at least, of every paycheck in savings. The first goal is a one-moth buffer. My family used to have this peace of mind and, Lord-willing, we will have it again soon.

There you have it. Follow my progress and hopefully you'll be encouraged to press on, keep on and never give up. Let's make 2009 one to remember. No regrets and no excuses.